By John Lauritsen

FINLAYSON, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s a place near Finlayson where every Labor Day weekend playing in the mud is highly encouraged.

For three straight days the sounds of screaming engines can be heard for miles around.

“It’s somewhere where you can play in the mud and not get in trouble,” said Shawn Kuhlman.

It’s paradise for people who like loud trucks and lots of mud.

“You need to be willing to get dirty,” Kuhlman said. “That’s for sure. That’s what it’s all about.”

Twenty-four years ago Kuhlman bought a piece of land for one obvious purpose. He named it Howie’s Mud Bog, after his nickname.

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“And it was small. Four or five trucks and 20 of us having a party is basically how it started,” Kuhlman said.

But it quickly grew. Nowadays, thousands of spectators turn out and more than 200 trucks participate. Some come from as far away as Texas.

“I jump it. I race it. I mud it,” said Nik Madison.

Madison goes to monster truck events across the country. His mega truck is like a dinosaur that runs on horsepower. Madison and his buddies built it from scratch.

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“I’m ready to jump this thing,” Madison said.

At Howie’s Mud Bog, there’s a roar unlike any other.

“I’ve heard rumors of 5 to 6 miles away they hear us playing,” Kuhlman said.

When the trucks really get going, it’s not always clear where they’ll end up.

“I get stuck all the time,” Madison said. “You’re not doing it right if you’re not getting it stuck. Everyone gets stuck.”

“My brother actually got it buried at one event that it took three tractors to pull him out,” Mike Dziuk said.

Getting stuck is a goal for some. At Howie’s, the mud is 6-feet deep in some spots and a backhoe is on stand-by to help pull them out.

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But mostly it’s about adrenaline.

“When you get a truck like this and they hit it, you just feel it in your chest,” Kuhlman said.

“If you’ve ever jumped a pedal bike…it’s — times that by like 80,” Dziuk said.

At a smaller scale, there’s also a side-by-side challenge course at Howie’s.

But no matter what kind of wheels they ride on, it’s clear that the mud is the glue that brings these guys together.

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“You become good friends with these people and everyone helps each other out,” Nik said. “It’s a big family, it’s your second family, your mud family. It’s awesome.”

Howie’s Mud Bog is held every Labor Day weekend, and they also have camping, live music, and tug of war.

John Lauritsen